Thursday, June 7, 2007


Queen Christina (1933): Well-acted, but plodding and stagy drama with a lot more interesting undertones about homosexuality (including the suggested relationship between Christina and the other woman, and the interesting way with which the Spaniard reacts both before and after he discovers Christina is not a man (in the least-convincing "manly" get-up OF ALL TIME. She literally just...puts a hat on.). Meh. C+ [6th in the 7 of '33]

Wonder Bar (1934): Another film that is mostly famous for notably pushing the boundaries of sexuality in film, with a joke that was surely at the time just an offhand bit of naughtiness, but has since become a gay hallmark (A VERY effeminate man with a wispy little mustache comes to a dancing couple, asks if he can dance, and then takes off with the man, as Al Jolson jokes, "Boys will be boys!").

This film was right as the Hayes Code was beginning, and so pushes a LOT of boundaries that would have been unthinkable just six months later. It's fascinating just how many taboos the film flaunts, as it includes homosexuals (the aforementioned), sado-masochists (the entire whip number), suicidals (Renaud), gigolos (Harry), murderers (Inez, who is allowed to get away with murder) and an incredibly LONG (goes on for over 10 minutes!), incredibly racist number about a black farmer and his mule going to Black Heaven and seeing black angles, with everyone in blackface. There's also a couple of preposterously fabulous Busby Berkeley numbers, and Al Jolson makes everything better (it goes against my better judgment, but the song during the blackface number was excellent, ha) I'm totally flabbergasted at this film, and I love every minute. B [4th in the 5 of '34]

How Green Was My Valley (1941): A Best Picture winner that, at this point in time, is more famous because of the film that didn't win as opposed to any statement about its quality. This film won the Best Picture Oscar in 1941, beating out The Maltese Falcon, Suspicion, and The Little Foxes, but will forever be known as "The Film That Beat Citizen Kane", and that's partly the film's fault. It's a solid "good" movie, the kind that has no glaring faults in acting, writing, directing or staging, but just seems like one of many solid "good" 'poor, working man' British dramas around the same period. It doesn't stick out amongst the pack, and although I own this movie, I hadn't gotten around to it until now, and I only own it because I bought it in a pack because I wanted Sunrise and couldn't find it anywhere else. Worth a watch, but no staggering classic. B- [7th of Ten of '41]

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